FOUR DAYS after Congress leaders, in a bid to target SAD on the drugs issue in Punjab, burnt ‘Chhitta Raavan’ in Ludhiana with posters of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal and Revenue Minister Bikram Singh Majithia on the day Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Ludhiana, Sukhbir in a press conference Friday, came out all guns blazing against Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) chief Captain Amarinder Singh and Aam Aadmi Party leadership, alleging that both parties were “defaming” Punjab and its youth on the drugs issue.
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Citing the results of a recent recruitment drive of constables in the Punjab police and accompanied by Baba Farid University of Health Sciences Vice Chancellor Dr Raj Bahadur Singh and Director-General of Police Suresh Arora, Sukhbir said there was no need for dope tests in the constables’ recruitment, but that “we were forced to take the harsh decision to prove our innocence.”
Sukhbir said as per the test results, only 1.27 percent of the youth were found to have consumed drugs. The Deputy CM said if Capt and AAP leadership discard the “scientific data” and “still continue with “branding brave Punjabis as drug peddlers, they are the biggest addicts”. Sukhbir said “politically motivated branding of Punjabi youths as drug addicts was started by [Congress vice president] Rahul Gandhi. This shows his enmity towards Punjab has not decreased but increased.”
Sukhbir also referred to army recruitment drives at five centres in Punjab recently and said of 14,028 youth who participated in the drive, only 10 tested positive for drugs.
Sukhbir also said that Punjab was more vulnerable as an entry point of drugs from across the border with Pakistan as compared to other border states such as Rajasthan, Gujarat and Jammu and Kashmir. He said as compared to “thin” deployment of defence forces, there was heavy deployment in Jammu and Kashmir and unlike Punjab, the villages in neighbouring state were not as close to border. He added that as compared to Punjab, the topography of Gujarat and Rajasthan was not such that drugs could be smuggled through those states.
Sukhbir said 12 more battalions of Border Security Force (BSF) were needed to be deployed at Punjab border. Hailing the state police as the second line of defence, he said the seziures of drugs by Punjab police were “two to three times more than” made by the BSF.
An hour-long press conference also saw the BFUHS V-C make a presentation giving a break-up of categories of drugs for which constable post aspirants were tested positive and also details about each category of drugs. DGP Arora also asserted that the conviction rate in NDPS Act cases was over 80 per cent in Punjab and state tops the chart in country on that count.
Arora also dismissed “propaganda” that big fish were not caught in anti-drug drive by claiming that in the past three years, big smugglers’ assets worth Rs 197 crore were attached.
The DGP said another “propaganda” that only 74 per cent of the total candidates appeared for the tests and remaining did not attend the drive for the fear of dope tests was also devoid of any substance. Arora said in the constables’ recruitment last time in 2011, only 65 percent of total candidates had appeared. “And there was no dope test at that time,” he added.
Intervening during the presentation by BFUHS V-C and address by DGP, Sukhbir said the sample size of scientific study during police recruitment “can become a case study”. He said that “no other state had the courage to get the dope tests done for such recruitments.”
He said against the national average of consumptions of opioids of 0.7 per cent, the consumption rate in Punjab was merely 0.33 per cent, half the national average. In another category of drugs the cannabis, he said while the national average was three per cent, the rate of consumption was 0.42 per cent, “nine times less than the national average.”
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